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How engaged are your employees? Are they putting in the extra effort to get their jobs done right, or are they simply doing the minimum to remain employed? Are supervisors giving employees the tools they need to solve challenges in their work? Do your team members feel that their managers have a clear vision for long-term success?

employee engagement

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s worth taking a look to find out. A recent employee engagement survey reveals that employers around the world are facing a full-blown employee engagement crisis, as only 13 percent of employees worldwide feel truly engaged in their work. With an annual cost in lost productivity of $450 billion in the U.S. alone, low employee engagement is a critical business issue. These four strategies can help you connect with your team members and keep them engaged year after year.

Set Reasonable Goals

As a project manager, you are responsible for defining goals for each member of the project team and for the project as a whole. When you’re creating a project scope statement and assigning tasks to different members of your team, pay close attention to the objectives you’re setting for each employee. If your expectations are too high or too low, you run the risk of disengaging team members from the project. Unreasonably tight deadlines, or unusually heavy workloads, create a sense of helplessness in the employees who have to try to meet them. On the other hand, very light workloads tend to leave team members bored and looking for other ways to spend their time.

Recognize Team Members for Their Accomplishments

One of the most effective ways to keep employees engaged is to make them feel that their efforts are appreciated. Even small gestures of recognition can have a tremendous effect on motivation. For example, if you have a weekly or daily status update meeting with your team, start each meeting with a summary of any tasks that have been completed or issues that have been resolved, and mention the team members who contributed to each. There’s no need for flowery praise– a simple acknowledgement is enough to make most employees feel appreciated. Many managers find that this sort of low-key, frequent employee recognition (some call it “feeding the meter”) is the single best way to keep team members happy and interested in their work.

Provide Meaningful Feedback

Recognition for a job well done, as important as it may be, is not the only form of feedback that employees need. When it’s time for yearly performance reviews, or to assess performance at the completion of a project, take the time to come up with relevant, useful input that will help your team members develop their skills. Use specific examples of things that went well and things that could have been better, and be sure to let employees know what resources are available to help them enhance their capabilities.

Encourage Collaboration

Online collaboration tools are a must-have for organizations looking to increase employee engagement. Workplace collaboration software like Clarizen helps team members build personal connections, increase productivity and work together to solve challenges that might otherwise have led to frustration and conflict. Online collaboration also helps employees stay in touch with the latest project developments, so that no one is left out of the loop.

Anne Catambay
As head of global marketing, Anne Catambay draws on more than 20 years of leadership experience in Silicon Valley. She joins Clarizen from Badgeville, where her global marketing efforts helped the company achieve a leadership position in a new market category (gamification). Prior to Badgeville, Anne held senior roles in global partner marketing at VMware, driving dramatic growth in a new market and seeing the company through acquisition (EMC) and, subsequently, through a highly touted IPO.Previously, she ran demand generation at Keynote Systems during the company's successful IPO, ultimately leading the company's partner marketing, corporate marketing and demand generation efforts. Anne also drove market demand in the Americas for British software company Systems Union. She holds a B.S. In business marketing, a B.F.A. in photography from San Jose State University and an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University.